In my work as a financial and insurance advisor, I am witness to the good, the bad, the sad, and the ugly. The most unfortunate of those four is the sad. A long-time client of mine recently found that his 15-year old daughter is suffering from a rare disease known as moyamoya, a rare blood vessel (vascular) disorder in which a ring of blood vessels at the base of the brain (the circle of Willis) and the uppermost (distal) segments of the arteries supplying the brain progressively narrow, causing blow flow to the brain to be reduced. Moyamoya disease mainly affects children, in this case a precious 15-year old otherwise healthy young lady. It usually occurs in people from Japan and other Asian countries, but North Americans and Europeans are also known to suffer from it. If that tragedy wasn’t enough, an older daughter in the family sadly had their home burn down, killing a five-year-old child. When I learned of the series of horrible challenges the family is enduring, I literally wept. All I could think of is what it would be like if a child of mine was suffering from a dreadful disease such as moyamoya. My heart would break if I lost one of my precious granddaughters, Ashley or Ava, who were about the child’s same age.
We take the good things we have in our lives for granted. We all have challenges of making mortgage payments or student loans or medical bills. My late grandfather, Eli S. Mack, once observed that “You don’t have any problems if money is a solution.” Indeed, you don’t. Money problems can be solved with money. Tragedies like my client’s cannot be solved by working harder, praying harder or by hitting the lottery. In short, it’s in God’s hands. However, if you believe in a God, one also subscribes to the theory that the God we worship doesn’t cast tragedy on a 15-year old girl with a brain disease and doesn’t snatch away the life of a five year old. There is no explanation for the horrors of life. We Catholics notoriously try to pray our way out of the awful dreadfulness of circumstances such as these. We resort to prayer because there’s nowhere else one can retreat. Sometimes those prayers are answered; sometimes fate takes her horrible course. In both cases, we turn to God. Having interviewed thousands of clients in 40-years in the life insurance and estate planning arena, I’ve found the greatest of all tragedies is dealing with the most innocent of all, the children. We have to embrace our feelings and emotions, including anger, guilt, sorrow and fear. Throw away time tables. Grieving is different for everyone. There is no timeline. Numbness is natural for those in grief, much like a bad dream. It will eventually pass. If necessary, step away from work for a bit, if that’s helpful. For some, diving into their work is the best medicine of all. Turning to your faith helps. Avoid making major decisions like moving or fleeing the situation with drugs or alcohol. You must trust in time being a healer of all wounds. In the meantime, take care of yourself if you expect to care for the needs of others, including being gentle with yourself. Get your sleep; you don’t need to compound the problem. Remember to eat, but don’t overeat and above all, stay hydrated. Use alcohol and prescription drugs in moderation. Reevaluate relationships if they become hurtful. Honor the memory of the child with memorials and other exercises using web pages or even special events like other children’s birthdays and always at holidays. Rejoice in their memory. A nice scrapbook can help that process. If you have the resources, a scholarship in their honor would help memorialize them further. Something as simple as lighting a candle and saying a prayer can be beneficial. Get outside help from a therapist or a member of the Clergy. Bereavement groups are also helpful. Simply Google them and put in your zip code for the closest. Finally, it’s okay to turn to God. That may help you find the answers quicker than anything else.
Michael Aun is a syndicated columnist and writes a weekly column for this newspaper. To contact Michael Aun, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.